May 29, 2014

End of School Ragamuffins

My kids get out of school next week.  Despite nearly a week of snow days, their last day remains as originally scheduled, a gift from the state board of education.

The end can't come soon enough, if the fit and wear of their uniforms and school supplies is any indicator.  I just can't bring myself to spend money on new items at this time of year.  The younger ones grow too fast, and, for the rest of it, well, I suppose I am in a mindset that school expenditures should be over for a few months - no matter what.  I have written plenty of checks for end of year field trips and activities, I sure as heck don't need to run out and buy new school items.

While I appreciate the standards and ease of dressing kids in uniforms, it gets tiresome when there is so little time left in the year, and the items that they seem to outgrow the most frequently are those that they wouldn't wear outside of school.  And, all of my kids seem to have a Spring Break growth spurt just weeks before school is ending.

I love my kiddos, and I wouldn't absolutely deny them anything if it was going to cause them embarrassment or harassment, but there is an important lesson to be learned about frugality.  So, yes, that will be my little Crash on Monday, receiving his end of year rewards in a white oxford that comes untucked when he lifts his arms and dress pants that are now capri length.

May 27, 2014

Tuesday FOD

Republican administration 'outs' a US-based Headquarters Service CIA operative:
One Count of obstruction of justice
Two Counts of making false statements
Two Counts of perjury
Felony Conviction 
Sentenced to 30 months in prison and 400 hours community service 
Fined $250,000
Disbarred
President commuted the prison term but did not pardon
Obama administration outs a CIA operative, assigned as a Station Chief in Afghanistan, by including his name on a WH Press Office distribution list that was emailed to 6,000 addresses:
White House declines to comment

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day - The Missing

On this Memorial Day I recall and honor those I have known that lost their lives in the service of our country.

I also pay tribute to the families of the 83,281 American service members that remain unaccounted for.  While, perhaps, there is hope for those missing in more recent conflicts, 73,624 of those missing are from World War II, and those families are likely remembering their loved one's today, and wishing they had something more than an empty memorial to pay their respects to.

May 24, 2014

Enjoying the weekend

My parents recently put their boat in a slip at a nearby lake.  It is a big boat house, with each boat slip displaying the owner's personality through their decor and size of beer refrigerator.  We have a blank slate to start with, and will soon, I am sure, be keeping up with the Joneses.

Their boat house is known for having the best fishing, and my kids have spent about 12 of the last 36 hours trying to help maintain that reputation.  It makes my heart smile to see my kids having a blast, not checking cell phones, or wishing they were in front of the Xbox.  It didn't hurt that there were lines in the water and Shiners in the hands of the adults.


May 22, 2014

If it's too loud, you're too old.

I spent a good part of my teenage years, and most of my allowance money, on concerts and recorded music.  While we occasionally take in a live music event these days, I have learned that the experience of seeing bands from the Good Old Days can be too much of a reality check.  As in, "Holy crap those guys are old, which means I must be old!"

This past Saturday I attended a concert with a few friends, which was just that sort of event.  I tried, when mentally writing this post, to think of all the bands I have seen live.  That list will take some more time.  It is a lot of bands.  It is a lot of great classic rock bands.  I saw two bands on Saturday that I don't think I ever saw when any of us were in our 'prime' - Styx and Foreigner.

I think Styx has always been a little theatrical, especially in concert, for my tastes.  They have some great music, and they played a few songs that, have since, spurred me to invest in some of their albums.  Foreigner, in the time and place of my teenage years, were a little too 'pop'.  Of course, Jukebox Hero was an anthem for the age, but the rest, particularly their ballads, just weren't my thing, as reinforced by the over-50 crowd waving their iPhone torches and crooning I Want to Know What Love Is to one another.

The opening act, in my opinion, stole the show, Don Felder.  If you are unfamiliar, he was a member of the Eagles and wrote Hotel California.  He is a stellar guitarist, and loaded his set with Eagles tunes, punctuated by a spot on cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Pride and Joy.

All of the bands sounded great, even though none of them are touring with all of the original members.  It was the aging physiques still poured into Spandex and glittery jackets, with jowls and wrinkles in hi-def on the big screens that were hard to stomach, no matter how many $7 Shiners I drank.  Tommy Shaw, though, well, that man has aged gracefully, I must say.

I have seen a few 'reunion' tours, and I knew that it wouldn't quite be the concert experience of my younger years.  And yet, when my friend proposed we all get tickets and relive a little of our youth, I didn't hesitate.  It is kind of fun to go to concerts when you can afford the ridiculously priced alcohol, and can spring for the cushy seats with good view and leg room.  I just didn't expect to see so many mobility scooters and walkers.

May 20, 2014

A Mom Moment

I love my children fiercely.  I would step in front of a train, bullet, or any other force that was on a course to harm them.  I don't, however, fight their life lesson-battles for them, because that would defeat the purpose.  I stick up for them, and advocate on their behalf as is necessary and appropriate, but that doesn't mean constantly. Depending on their age and maturity, I either make decisions on their behalf, guide them toward the best decision, or sit back and applaud good decisions, or wait to comfort or counsel them after poor decisions.

All that to say that I am not a helicopter parent, nor do I have a sink-or-swim mentality, I simply try to be the best parent I know how to be.

Crash is my baby, but I am not really the sort to treat him as such.  He is simply my youngest child.  He is a true athlete, with an incredible amount of natural ability.  This school year he played his second season of basketball and his first season of baseball.  Both went very well, and coaches in both sports verified that his natural talent is undeniable.

Peewee football registration opened this week.  I find that some unknown overprotective mom gene has surfaced and I feel particularly determined to prevent Crash from playing a sport that I love.  Mr. H is on an opposite course.

In his short life, Crash has broken three bones.  His tibia as a toddler, in a freak misstep sort of accident that, apparently, isn't really uncommon, and his ulna and radius were snapped in a fall from the couch when he was four.  I am assured by his pediatrician that he is perfectly healthy, and there are no calcium deficiencies or any other convenient excuse (other than active boy) to explain away the injuries.

I can't find any justification for letting my sweet little nugget of a skinny boy get steamrolled on a football field.  It can't possibly be safe.  I understand there is risk in all sports, but, hell, this is football.  They intend to hit one another.  Yes, yes, he did really well playing flag football last year, but they didn't run into one another!  They were having fun, not trying to slobber-knock their opponents.  And those volunteer coaches, what do they know?

Crash loves all sports, but, his dad's obvious love for all things pigskin-related has shaped Crash's worldview.  I could win this battle quite easily.  If I say 'no', there won't be a fight, some disappointment, sure, but not anything more -we, fortunately, don't have that sort of family life.  But, I am having a hard time weighing what is best for my peace of mind, what Crash (thinks) he wants to do, and my husband's midlife need to re-experience his youthful football career vicariously through his son.

I just don't get this rush to get kids into sports.  It is crazy that I have to consider that not letting Crash play now can affect his potential to play at the high school level.  It is stupid that 10-year old's have private skills coaches.  Can't we call a moratorium on organized sports for little folks, and agree that kids can be just as happy playing Kick the Can and Pickle until they are teenagers?

May 19, 2014

FOD - God Bless Texas Edition

I am frequently reminded of the reasons why I reside in the Great State of Texas.  This weekend was a stellar example, as I attended a combat pistol course with my oldest child.  A small arsenal of weaponry, thousands of rounds of ammo, good people, intelligent instruction, and all without permits, registrations, or licenses.

We blew through ~300 rounds of handgun ammo, each, over the course of the day, which was fun while it lasted, but for which I am paying the price today.  Sunburned, bruised, and missing some skin on the top of my thumb, but a better shot and more confident than before in my ability to protect myself, my family, or other innocent people, should a bad guy cross my path.

Obama would like to prevent law-abiding citizens, like me, from owning a gun.  As libs have been schooled on matters Constitutional, they have increasingly resorted to backdoor tactics to control guns in the USA.
Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales.
Since 2011, regulators have increased scrutiny on banks’ customers. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2011 urged banks to better manage the risks of their merchant customers who employ payment processors, such as PayPal, for credit card transactions. The FDIC listed gun retailers as “high risk” along with porn stores and drug paraphernalia shops.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has launched Operation Choke Point, a credit card fraud probe focusing on banks and payment processors. The threat of enforcement has prompted some banks to cut ties with online gun retailers, even if those companies have valid licenses and good credit histories.
“This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent ‘reputational risk’ to do business with,” said Peter Weinstock, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams LLP. “So financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative in who they do business with: Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped.”
It isn't just guns; payday lenders, porn shops, and head shops were low-hanging fruit for Operation Choke Point.  Isn't the basis of 'freedom' the premise that my opinion of what you do, or sell, doesn't matter, as long as it doesn't harm me or my own?  We should be shaking in our boots that the government increasingly chooses to control in the shadows.  These aren't issues that are debated in the open.  This isn't legislation that is voted on by our elected representatives.  This is big government overreach.  This is a dictator and his minions doing whatever they please, getting their way because 44% of our population doesn't care enough about our foundational principals to vote for people that will protect the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

May 16, 2014

Obama Honesty

Remember that Jim Carrey movie, Liar Liar?  The premise being that Carrey's character was a pathological liar of an attorney (forgive my redundancy) that was forced to tell nothing but the truth for 24 hours, due to his son's birthday wish being granted through some supernatural force.  

Over at one of my daily reads, White House Dossier, author Keith Koffler often posts fictional quotes that seem to express what would come out of Obama's mouth, were he suddenly stricken with a similar 'curse' to be honest at all times.  Here's the latest:
"Of course I'm sticking with Shinseki. I just find it impossible to believe that a government-run health care system could result in anyone's death."
- Barack Obama
A note from our attorneys: This is not a real quote. 
 Heh.

May 15, 2014

Feeling Old

I went to a funeral yesterday.  It seems that I am in a cycle of my life that finds me at more end of life events, than beginning of life events.  God willing, that should come around a little, as my children and their friends get married and have children.

It doesn't escape me that time is passing, and I don't think I have ever been much of the type to take life for granted.  I do believe that there are seasons of our life that we settle in, finding comfort and security in a routine.  There are thousands of songs, poems, and pithy internet quotes that urge us to 'live like we were dying', and wouldn't it be great if we each had the resources to cross items off of our bucket list as if there were no tomorrow?

I am not particularly disappointed in any one aspect of my life.  I do not harbor regret or yearn for a path that I didn't take.  I do find myself looking at my children, and young adults out in public, and thinking how wonderful that time of life was, when I had the freedom to make independent choices, to go where the wind took me, to learn new things, to seek fresh experiences.

If you could go back and do it all over again, would you?  Some people adamantly say 'no' to that question, but, if I could go back, knowing what I know now, I sure as hell would.  In a heartbeat.  Don't misunderstand, I would still want to end up with the same husband and same children and same friends - but would relish getting to that point without some of the pain and heartache that I created for myself.

I suppose going to funerals of people who were revered by their families and friends sets rather high expectations.  I wonder if I will be as fondly remembered.  I wonder if I have done all the right things for my kids.  I hope that my friends will recall me with affection.

I suppose that most people get to be *mumble-mumble* year's old and have thoughts like this.  I wonder if I can parlay this into a new sports car or some plastic surgery?

May 14, 2014

Because 27% interest ain't so bad

When I am alone in my car I often listen to comedy channels on satellite radio.  This week I heard a black comedian talking about Obama and the economy.  I am too lazy to try and figure out who the comedian was, or to find the bit on YouTube, so I will summarize it for you.

The comedian did take the path often traveled, by saying the Obama inherited an economic mess.  He then went off on a more conservative tangent by noting that not much had improved since Obama took office.  But then he made a point that has stuck with me.

When talking about the reaction to the economy, he compared (what I would consider) Obama's voting base to that of the average conservative, the comedian noted that white people (his words, not mine) were freaked out over economic issues.  White people are most concerned about unemployment and debt, while black people (again, his words), aren't.  He acknowledged that America doesn't have the global might that it once did, and that our credit is shot.  And then he made a joke that went something like this, "Hold on White People, we got this.  Let us show you how to rent-to-own."

Could that be it?  Are there enough 'black people' and other liberals so accustomed to poverty, joblessness, and welfare, that the state of the economy doesn't worry them, because they live poor and don't know any different?  Are there enough of those people to swing an election?

Could it be that there is a significant group of voters that, while perhaps wanting hope and change and a leg up out of the poor house, are so used to it that the thought of being dead broke and needing a hand-out doesn't bother them?

Sheesh, I've had challenging times and low moments in my life, but it never occurred to me to drop my expectation threshold to that level.

May 13, 2014

Still among the living

I have said before, that I am sometimes surprised at the names and faces that are featured in 'memoriam' stories and videos, features of celebrities that have recently died - the sort of snippets that occupy newspaper and internet space at the end of the year, and at every sort of award show.  Perhaps it is the overwhelming amount of information that is available on a daily basis, that allows for notable deaths to get lost in the shuffle.  Or maybe I am getting older and forgetful.

Gracing the interwebs this week is a story featuring the court fight between Casey Kasem's wife, Jean, and his children from a previous marriage.  The kiddos want to see their dad and Jean, apparently, is trying to keep them away.  The court battle that took a turn this week when Jean's attorney announced that he had no idea where Casey Kasem was.

A court-ordered search is now underway to find the man with the famous countdown voice.

A man, that I swear, died years ago.  Seriously.  When I read the headline that Kasem was missing, I thought it was some sort of lost corpse story.  I would have argued with anyone who told me Kasem was alive.  I really think I can picture a People magazine cover with his face, upon the occasion of his death.

I guess, like Kasem, I am lost.  Glad to hear he is still among us, even if no one but that batshit crazy wife of his knows where to find him.

May 12, 2014

FOD

What is the president doing, other than playing golf? (He squeezed in a round this weekend, bringing this year's count to 12 rounds, for a grand total of 169).

Foreign relations remain embarrassing and dangerous.  Obama won't engage Putin.  Our response to the Boko Haram kidnapping is to tweet a sad face photo of the first lady.  Just icing on the cake after five years of missteps on Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya.

Domestically, his crowning achievement is Obamacare, a disaster that was obvious to many at the start, and is now revealed as such to an ever growing audience of once-believers.

Obama's key agenda items for his second term range from un-Constitutional (gun control), to unpopular (immigration reform), to unsubstantiated (climate change), to un-achievable for this administration (jobs and debt reduction).

Is the president doing anything?  It seems odd that a sampling of the top stories running on two key political sites, give no indication of what it is that the president is 'working' on:


Is he, at least, getting any better at golf?

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

To all the moms out there, I hope you have a wonderful day.


May 10, 2014

Election Day

Today is municipal election day in Texas.  Local races will decide council seats, school board seats, bond proposals and other miscellaneous matters of import to cities and towns in our state.

In my town, we have three seats on both council and school board that are contested, as well as a $45 million dollar school bond proposal.  In typical big-politics fashion, the school board lumped together real needs with a whole lotta flashy pork, trying to strike a delicate balance between getting the things they want, by combining them with things people will vote for.

By their own calculations, 67% of the bond amount is for a new middle school.  5.96% is for new buses, technology upgrades and high school lab updates.  The remaining 27.04% is sports related.  And, included in that 67% for a middle school are THREE sports fields and a track.

The schools, you see, are getting crowded.  Well, kinda.  With last year's purchase of a dozen portable buildings, there is/was still considerable capacity, so to jack up the numbers, increase the state per student funding, and make it look good for a bond, the school allowed people outside the district to enroll on a space-available basis, adding over 130 kids.  Adding to the confusion is a claim that the schools are statistically considered to be at 'full functional capacity' when they reach 85% capacity.  So, 85% = 100%.  Perhaps they should have included some money for the math department.

The narrow view that develops out here in the 'burbs astounds me.  How have these parents convinced themselves that Little Johnnie and Jane simply won't get a good education if they have to attend class in a portable building, or that the football players and band members need an indoor practice facility to succeed?

The bond is an all-or-nothing proposition, and to hear the supporters tell it, if you don't vote for it, and take the hit to your property taxes, then you hate children.

On my way to vote soon, ready to earn my title as 'Child Hater'.

May 9, 2014

Terrorized by poop

Deputies with the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office say a man has been terrorizing a neighborhood in the Woodland Heights area of Houston by going to the bathroom in several yards at night.
To paraphrase an overused quote from The Princess Bride; "That word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."

Someone, especially a grown human male someone, taking a dump in your driveway is disgusting, stupid, juvenile, inconvenient, gross, and inexplicable.   Does it rise to the level of 'terrorizing' the homeowners?  Heck, no.

I am certainly supportive of individual property rights.  Your home, land, lawn - it is yours to do with as you please, and I sympathize when someone infringes and trespasses.  But, when did poop, human or otherwise, become such a scary thing that we get the police involved, do news stories on it, and, in cases of serial pet owner non-pooper-scoopers, send poop to labs for DNA testing to identify the culprits?  

It is just frickin' poop.

Believe me, I know how smelly, dirty, and disgusting it can be.  I have large animals.  I have three males in my home.  I am a mother of four.  But, it is still just poop.

And, no, I don't want to be stuck cleaning up anyone else's mess, but isn't this all just a little bit ridiculous?  There are so many things in this world, and this life, that are more important than this.

That guy in Houston, pooping in people's driveways, he is certainly a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and that is the point that the media and law enforcement should be making.  This pooping, it is like his gateway drug, and, yes, this 'serial defecator' should be caught and punished accordingly before his intentionally destructive behavior escalates to something truly terrifying, like, say, pooping in a paper bag and igniting it on someone's doorstep.

May 8, 2014

How Hillary Copes

I am not sure if she has officially declared her candidacy or not, as I like to eat, and most 'news' about Hillary makes my stomach sour.  Whether or not she has made it official is really of no consequence, as it is clear she is running.

It took about 1.3 seconds for me, and the few sane media outlets, to make a connection between the 'sudden revelations' by Monica Lewinsky in a Vanity Fair article, and the reason for the timing.  In the short-attention span theater of politics, this is called clearing the air now, so it doesn't interfere with the Old Dame's run for the presidency.  Drag all of the skeletons out of the closet and into the sunlight, and by November of 2016, they will simply be forgotten old bleached bones that won't register on the minds of democratic voters.

I think it is also curious timing, that Chelsea's pregnancy was announced just shortly before the Vanity Fair piece hit the news crawl.  If she hasn't already, I am sure that Hillary will use that happy news to steer people away from the Lewinsky line of questioning.  A classic, "I don't want to dwell on unpleasant things that happened in the past, I prefer to look forward to a happy future as a grandmother and the first female president of the USA..."

Of course, that spin will be hard to master when people question her about Benghazi.  Why should she get to look forward to a happy future as a grandmother, when four men lost their lives and four families are without husbands, fathers, grandfathers?  Hillary believes that everyone needs to move on, and that we choose not to be satisfied with the information that has been provided.

I suppose that is the sort of attitude that kept her married to Bill, despite Monica, Gennifer, Maria, Belinda, Naomi, Markie, Patricia, Elizabeth, Sallie, Dolly, and Paula.

May 6, 2014

Youth is wasted on the young

This past weekend I traveled to College Station, Texas, where my oldest child attends college.  There were some Important Events to view, which were enjoyable, and nearly made up for the annual hauling of the crap to the SUV to move Boom home for the summer.  Some of her classmates are staying at college over the summer, choosing to work and take some classes, subletting houses and apartments of those with somewhere else to go for three months, a circumstance that results from both careful planning and 'oh shit' moments, as in, "Oh shit, my parents aren't going to pay for a 5th year victory lap of college, I need to knock out an extra class or two over the summer."

Boom has one of those summers sneaking up on her.  Here's hoping it is more of the 'careful planning' variety.

While I don't live vicariously through my children, I do love to soak in the college atmosphere.  Those were the days, weren't they?  I am often heard encouraging my daughter to get out and do things, enjoy the time she has before grown up life is fully upon her.  Granted, her idea of a good time, thankfully, isn't the same as what mine was at that age.  She is enjoying herself, and I guess it might be for the best if she graduates without ever having done a keg stand.

Saturday's festivities marked an end for the senior cadets at A&M - and, considering graduation requirements and the lead time for commencement, most of them were completely done with all but the walk across the stage next weekend.  So they have some time to kill before they are thrust into full-fledged adulthood.

As we stood outside Boom's dorm, milling about with the other parents waiting on their kids to change out of uniform so they could go to lunch, two seniors stuck their head out of an upper level stairwell window, calling out to a friend below - a sentiment that, to me, seemed to express all the joy and desperation one would expect for young men at the end of their college careers:
"Hurry up, the bars close in 14 hours!"

May 5, 2014

FOD - Golf Count

Golf count:  11 and 168.  Can you think of a leisure activity, in which each session lasts 4-6 hours, that you have or could do 168 times in 5 years while working full time and raising a family?

How many more rounds do you think Blowie can squeeze in during his remaining 990 days in office?

May 2, 2014

Sight Seeing

There has been growing news coverage about a local boy who is losing his sight:
While most nine-year-old boys are learning to play video games or baseball, Ben Pierce is learning to become blind...
...Ben was born at 23 weeks gestation, more than four months early. He weighed one pound and six ounces. He was so underdeveloped that his eyelids were still fused shut....
...Despite the odds, Ben is healthy today. Healthy, except for his eyes. He has had to have eye surgery.
“It prevented his retinas from detaching, but it also left some scar tissue," Kit explained. "And so every time he grows, as his eyes are growing, the scar tissue is not stretching. So he's losing a little more eyesight each time he has a growth spurt.”
The doctors have encouraged Ben's parents to provide as many visual memories as they can, as it will help him throughout his life.  The parents created a list of the things they wanted Ben to see and experience before he goes completely blind, and then they had Ben create a wish list of the things that he would like to see.

As the story has been featured, the magic of community, social media, and the kindness of strangers has been on blast.  This kid is pretty cool, and his wish list of sights is comprised of things many of us would likely list, coupled with things important to a 9-year old, as well as quirky things you wouldn't expect, and things that seem to be well beyond his nine years.  He wanted to see the Apple Store.  He wanted to go to Universal Studio's Harry Potter-themed parks.  Pyramids, landmarks, oceans, mountains, a Van Gogh.

Ben is a Weird Al fan, something I can relate to, being the mother of two boys.  Someone, somewhere, somehow, got the attention of Mr. Yankovich, who has facilitated Ben's attendance at an upcoming show.  Legoland and Seaworld stepped up.  The Dallas Museum of Art let Ben get up close and personal with the Van Gogh he wanted to see, something that brought tears to his eyes - and mine.

Reading through the comments on the Facebook page his family recently set up, people far and wide have offered experiences, vacation homes and money to help this sweet child see the world before it goes dark for him. I wish I had a million bucks or so to scoop that sweet child up and take him anywhere and everywhere his heart desires.